The Russian author Leo Tolstoy wrote a touching short story entitled “Where Love Is, God Is.” In the story we are told that a cobbler named Martin had suffered a series of difficulties, including losing his wife, several children, then finally his three year-old son. A visiting missionary one day tells Martin he should devote himself to serving God and leaves him with a New Testament. One night Martin falls asleep while reading the Gospel of Matthew.
Martin then dreams, and hears the Lord promising to come to him. The next day, the shoemaker encounters several people in need whom he assists. Later that evening, the Lord speaks to Martin in the darkness, repeatedly saying “Is is I,” and at each of these instances the faces of the people Martin had helped that day are brought to his mind. Based on Matthew 25:31-46 regarding how our Christian faith should lead us to help those in need, Tolstoy’s story highlights the truthfulness of Jesus’ words from this passage: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (25:40).
The Shoemaker’s Dream is a wonderfully done children’s book rendition of Tolstoy’s work. A project of friends of mine, the book features the beautiful artwork of Shari Finney that captures the scenes of the story with a vivid simplicity and warmth. The text is skillfully laid out on each page, employing font changes and shading to emphasize the message without distracting from the story. In addition, each book comes with a CD of Martin Blocki narrating the story, his comforting voice drawing you further into the story. In the background, Kathryn and Sarah Blocki play the flute and piano respectively with music composed especially for this project by Diane Whitacre. Each note and run of music fits the story so well. As you can see from the sample of the video below, all of this comes together to provide a delightful experience for not only children but adults as well.
Yet the book The Shoemaker’s Dream does not only emphasize the truth of Jesus’s words above. This project is also seeking to live them out. Dedicated to the memory of another friend of mine, Dave Long, who exemplified the loving nature encouraged in this story, all of the proceeds of the sale of this book are going to the Global Mission Board of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Dave gave so much of his life in service to the work of missions, so this contribution of these artists’ labors is not only generous but fitting. Knowing that by buying this book you are helping people in other lands be able to hear and see the gospel through the labors of missionaries should give additional incentive to you to get your own copy.